Cranford said many people often feel guilty or undeserving and try to find other ways to cut back, adding more stress to already stressful situations.
“What people often don’t realize is that we have these assistance programs available for these more difficult times, and that National Grid and other agencies are mandated by the government to set aside funds to make sure folks don’t freeze in their homes and to reduce the overall carbon footprint,” he said.
Almost 565 households on the North Shore have benefited from one of several energy assistance programs this past year, according to Chuck Gallant, director of energy conservation at NSCAP. That means anything from helping pay a family’s heat bill to weatherization services or appliance repair or replacements.
Anyone with an income that is 60 percent or under the state median for their household — which includes anyone living at that address as tenants or homeowners — is eligible for assistance. For instance, Cranford said a family of four earning $60,130 would qualify.
“I talked with a waitress recently who had two kids and couldn’t pay her heating bills because she didn’t realize she qualified for assistance,” Cranford said.
NSCAP serves 30 cities and towns across the North Shore and helps residents primarily of Salem, Peabody, Beverly and Danvers. Whether unemployed, underemployed or on limited incomes, many residents may qualify for heating emergency assistance or weatherization help, programs that Cranford says help neighbors, as well as energy conservation efforts.
“I have a file folder of thank-you notes from seniors on fixed incomes, some on disability who can’t work any longer or others who recently got laid off,” he said. “Then someone tells them they might get some help at NSCAP. This is the first time I’ve worked at a job that helps people and the environment, as well.”
If you need help For more information on NSCAP's energy conservation programs, call 978-531-0767, ext. 118. For information on fuel assistance, call 978-531-0767, ext. 136.